Saul of Tarsus

Saul of Tarsus

  1. Early Life. Saul was born in the city of Tarsus ( Acts 21:39 Acts 21:40 ). His education was completed at the feet of Gamaliel in the city of Jerusalem ( Acts 22:1-3 ).

  2. First Appearance in History. The first glimpse we have of Saul is at the martyrdom of Stephen ( Acts 7:58-60 ).

  3. Early Character. Saul's life previous to his conversion was distinguished on account of great wickedness. He declared that he was,
    1. a persecutor ( 1 Corinthians 15:9 );
    2. a blasphemer;
    3. an injurer;
    4. an unbeliever;
    5. the chief of sinners ( 1 Timothy 1:12-15 ).

    In the face of this, he declares that he lived in all good conscience before God ( Acts 23:1 ) for he exercised himself to that end ( Acts 24:16 ).

  4. Conversion. Saul was not satisfied with the work of destruction that he had led about Jerusalem, hence he applied to the authorities for letters to Damascus, in order to bind all of the disciples of the Lord in that distant city, and bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he approached the city, a brilliant light from heaven shone around him, and he heard a voice demanding why he persecuted Him. He asked, in reply, who was speaking to him and was told that that it was Jesus. With great trembling and astonishment the prostrated persecutor inquired what to do, and was told to go into the city, with the assurance that he should there receive the desired information. His associates were speechless. They heard the voice but did not comprehend it. They led Saul into the city where, without sight, he prayed for three days. The Lord spoke to the disciple Ananias and told him to go and give the penitent the desired relief, but having heard of Saul he attempted to excuse himself, but He told him to go his way, assuring him that Saul was a chosen vessel to carry His name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. Ananias immediately proceeded to carry out his commission, and entering, laid his hands on Saul, assuring him that Jesus had sent him, and when the blindness caused by the great brightness of the vision, had been relieved, he commanded him to arise and be baptized, which he promptly did ( Acts 9:1-18 ; Acts 22:1-16 ).

  5. Apostle. Saul immediately began to preach with very great power ( Acts 9:19-22 ).

  6. His Sacrifices. In order to gain Christ he forsook home, friends, country, the future that his great education had opened for him--yea, he forsook all things earthly ( Philippians 3:6-11 ).

  7. His Sufferings. His sufferings were unparalleled. He received from the Jews forty stripes save one on five occasions; he was beaten with rods three times, he was stoned once, he was shipwrecked three times, and spent a night and a day in the deep. In addition to this, he suffered the results of many long journeys, and perils of water, perils of robbers, perils by his own countrymen, perils by the heathen, perils in the cities, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brethren, in weariness, in hunger and third, in fastings, and in cold and nakedness, and the care of all the churches ( 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 ).

  8. His Infirmities. Paul's contemporaries declared that his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible ( 2 Corinthians 10:10 ). He had a thorn in the flesh given him, on account of the abundance of the revelations given ( 2 Corinthians 12:1-11 ). He suffered much from the infirmities of the flesh and in his constant conflict with sin ( Romans 7:10-25 2 Corinthians 11:30 ; 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 ).

  9. Sources of His Information. He was inspired of the Lord and did not even have to consult those who were apostles before him ( 2 Corinthians 11:7 Galatians 1:15-19 ).

  10. His Writings. Paul is the author of a large part of the New testament ( Romans 1:1-7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:1 1 Corinthians 1:2 ; 2 Corinthians 1:1 ; Galatians 1:1 ; Ephesians 1:1 ; Philippians 1:1 ; Colossians 1:1 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:1 ; 1 Timothy 1:1 ; 2 Timothy 1:1 ; Titus 1:1 ; Philemon 1:1 ).

  11. His First Missionary Journey.
    1. Paul and Barnabas were sent from Antioch into Syria; they visited Seleucia, and then sailed to Cyprus.
    2. At Salamis they preached the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews. As they passed through the isles unto Paphos they encountered a sorcerer by the name of Barjesus, who was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus. Elymas attempted to turn away the deputy from the faith, and Paul then declared unto him, as was full of subtilty and mischief, a child of the devil, an enemy of all righteousness, and would not cease to pervert the right way of the Lord, he should be stricken with blindness. When the deputy saw this, he believed ( Acts 13:1-12 ).
    3. After this they visited Perga in Pamphylia, from which place John, who had accompanied them, departed to Jerusalem ( Acts 13:13 ).
    4. After the departure of John, they went to Antioch, in Pisidia, where, on the sabbath day, they entered into a synagogues and sat down. After the reading of the law and prophets, they were invited to address the people. Paul, accepting the invitation, preached to them Jesus as the Savior ( Acts 13:14-43 ).
    5. The Gentiles invited them to preach to them the next sabbath, at which time nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God, and the Jews, seeing the multitude, spoke against the preaching of Paul, contradicting and blaspheming, Paul and Barnabas then declared that it was necessary to speak the word of the Lord first to them, but in view of their refusal to receive it, thereby judging themselves unworthy of the everlasting life, they would now turn to the Gentiles, for the commission extended to the Gentiles--to all inhabitants of earth ( Acts 13:42-47 ).
    6. The Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women and chief men of the city, raised a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them out of their coasts ( Acts 13:50 ).
    7. They next preached in Iconium, making a large number of believers. The Jews raised a persecution against them, and they fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and preached the gospel there and in the surrounding regions ( Acts 14:1-7 ).
    8. At Lystra, Paul healed a cripple who had never walked, and when the people saw it, they said the gods had come down to them in human form, and naming Barnabas Jupiter and Paul Mercurius, the priests of Jupiter brought oxen and attempted to offer sacrifice to them, who, when they heard of it, ran in among them, and with the great earnestness, declared they were only men of like passions with themselves, men whose duty it was to persuade them to forsake such things, and worship the living God, who was Creator of heaven and earth and all things; and thus they were only restrained by the earnest protest of the preachers ( Acts 14:8-18 ).
    9. After this Paul was stoned at the instigation of certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, and thinking him dead, they drew him out of the city ( 2 Corinthians 11:1-6 ), but while the disciples were standing around him, he arose, and with them entered into the city ( Acts 14:19 Acts 14:20 ).
    10. Subsequently they went to Derbe, preached the gospel, ordained elders in every church by prayer, fasting and commending them to the Lord, visited Attalia, and returned to Antioch, from whence they had started out; and so ended Paul's first missionary journey ( Acts 14:20-27 ).

  12. His Second Missionary Journey.
    1. Paul proposed to Barnabas to visit the brethren where they had formerly preached, and Barnabas desired to take with them John Mark, but was opposed by Paul, and a contention arose between them which resulted in their separation. Paul chose Silas, and went through Syria and Cilicia ( Acts 15:39-41 ).
    2. At Lystra he found a disciple by the name of Timotheus and circumcised him because of the Jews, for they all knew his father was a Greek, and this young man proceeded with them on their journey ( Acts 16:1-3 ).
    3. As they passed through the cities, they delivered the decrees of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem ( Acts 15:23-29 ), thus establishing the churches in the faith and increasing their numbers daily ( Acts 16:4 Acts 16:5 ).
    4. They next visited Phrygia, Galatia and Troas ( Acts 16:6-8 ).
    5. At Troas Paul beheld in a vision a man of Macedonia who requested him to come over unto Macedonia and help them ( Acts 16:9 ).
    6. After the vision, they immediately left Troas for Macedonia and came with a straight course to Samothracia, the next day to Neapolis, and then to Philippi, the chief city of that part of Macedonia. They attended a prayer meeting by the river side on the sabbath day and preached to the women who resorted there, among whom a certain woman by the name of Lydia gave heed to the things spoken, and was baptized with her household ( Acts 16:10-15 ).
    7. After this a slave girl, possessed of a spirit of divination, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying, followed Pau and Silas and annoyed them for a number of days by derisively crying after them: "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation" ( Acts 16:17 ). This finally became unbearable, and Paul commanded the spirit to depart from her, which immediately did. When her masters saw what had been done, they apprehended Paul and Silas and brought them into court before the magistrates, and accused them of teaching things contrary to the law. The magistrates rent their clothes and gave command to beat them, after which they were committed to the care of the jailer who, being charged to keep them safely and knowing the responsibility of such a charge, put them in the inner prison and made their feet secure in the stocks. At midnight, as Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God, an earthquake of great force occurred. The prison tottered upon its foundation; the doors opened and the manacles of the prisoners were all loosed. When the jailer awoke and saw the disorder of the prison, his first thought was that he prisoners had all escaped, and knowing the consequence he preferred death to disgrace, and immediately drew his sword with the intention of killing himself. Paul, either by inspiration or being where he could see the jailer, cried to him to do himself no harm, assuring him that the prisoners were all there. The jailer then called for a light, came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas; then he brought them out of the prison and demanded of them what he should do to be saved. Paul, in answer to his question, assured him that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ would secure salvation to him and all in his house. He then proceeded to speak unto him and all in his house the word of the Lord, there by pointing out to them the terms of salvation. They then departed from his house to a place where he washed their stripes, and he and his family were baptized. When they again returned to the house, the jailer prepared food for them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house ( Acts 16:16-34 ).
    8. In the morning the sergeants were commanded to release the prisoners, but Paul, feeling the indignity which had been shown them as Romans, declared they they should not send them away privately, but must come themselves and escort them from the prison. When the magistrates learned they were Romans, they were fearful, and immediately complied with Paul's demand. They went from the prison to the house of Lydia, where, after seeing and comforting the brethren, they departed ( Acts 16:35-40 ).
    9. They passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, and according to their custom went into the synagogue, and for three sabbath days reasoned with the people out of Scriptures. A great multitude of Greeks, a number of devout women, and others believed. The unbelieving Jews accused Jason and certain brethren of treason, declaring they recognized Jesus as king in opposition to Caesar. Because of this persecution, the brethren sent Paul and Silas by night to Bere ( Acts 17:1-10 ).
    10. They entered the synagogue in Berea, and after preaching to the people, found them more noble than those of Thessalonica, for they not only received the word with all readiness of mind, but manifested a spirit of investigation in searching the Scriptures daily to determine if the preaching were true, and as a result many became believers. The Jews of Thessalonica came to Berea and interfered with the work, and the brethren immediately sent away Paul, who went to Athens ( Acts 17:10-15 ).
    11. At Athens while Paul waited for Silas and Timotheus, his spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city entirely given up to idolatry. He encountered certain philosophers of the Epicureans and Stoics, who brought him to Areopagus, and requested him to speak to them in regard to the new doctrine he taught, for he brought strange things to their ears. Standing in the midst of Mars' Hill, he declared to them that he perceived they were in all things too superstitious or religious, for he had discovered among their works of devotion an altar to the unknown God. This God whom they ignorantly worshipped, he declared unto them, saying He was the creator of the world and all the things therein, and that He did not dwell in temples made with hands, for all were dependent on Him for being, life, and all things, for He had made of one blood all nations of men, that they should seek the Lord and find Him, though He was near to all, for in Him all lived, and moved and had their being, as their own poets had said that men were the offspring of God. He told them that in view of this they should not think the godhead was like gold, silver, or stone graven by the art of devices of man; and that in this age of ignorance God had not held them to strict account, but now required all men everywhere to repent, because He had appointed a day in which He would judge the world in righteousness by the man Christ Jesus whom He had ordained, and of this had given assurance to all men in that He had raised Him from the dead. When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, and others said they would hear him again of this matter. Some believed, among whom was Dionysius an Areopagite and a woman by the name of Damaris ( Acts 17:16-34 ).
    12. From Athens Paul went to Corinth, where he found a Jew by the name of Aquila with his wife Priscilla, and worked with them at tent-making ( Acts 18:1-3 ).
    13. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, persuading the Jews and Greeks, and upon arrival of Silas and Timotheus testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. He declared to those that opposed him that their blood should be upon their own heads, and he was free from all responsibility in their case, and would now turn to the Gentiles. So after this Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed with all his house, and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized ( Acts 18:4-8 ).
    14. The Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, and said to him by way of encouragement that He was with him and no one should hurt him, for He had many people in the city ( Acts 18:9-10 ).
    15. He continued in Corinth a year and six months ( Acts 18:11 ).
    16. While at Corinth Paul was accused by the Jews before Gallio, but Gallio drove them from the judgment seat, declaring he would not be judge of such matters ( Acts 18:12-17 ).
    17. He left Corinth, taking with him Priscilla and Aquila. He went to Ephesus, where he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue, and from there to Antioch, and so ended his second missionary journey ( Acts 18:18-22 ).

  13. His Third Missionary Journey.
    1. After spending some time at Antioch, Paul went over the country of Galatia and Phrygia ( Acts 18:23 ).
    2. When he came to Ephesus, he found certain disciples whom he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. They answered that they did not know whether there was any Holy Spirit. He inquired of them unto what they were baptized. They said unto John's baptism. He told them that John baptized unto repentance, saying they should believe on Him who should come after him, that is, on Christ. When they heard this they were then baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and Paul laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit, and spoke with tongues and prophesied ( Acts 19:1-7 ).
    3. He remained three years in Ephesus, during which time he preached the gospel so all those who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both of Jews and Greeks, and God worked special miracles by his hand ( Acts 19:8-12 ; Acts 20:31 ).
    4. Some vagabond Jews attempted to exorcise evil spirits by the use of the name Jesus, using as a formula the words, "We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth" ( Acts 19:13 ). Seven sons of Sceva, a chief priest, did this, and the evil spirit replied that he knew Jesus and Paul, and demanded who they were. The man then actuated by the spirit within, violently assaulted them, and they escaped out of the house naked and wounded, and by this incident the name of Jesus was glorified ( Acts 19:13-17 ).
    5. Many people believed and showed their faith by burning the books containing the principles of their magic to the value of fifty thousand pieces of silver ( Acts 19:18-20 ).
    6. After this Paul proposed to go to Jerusalem and then to Rome. He sent Timotheus and Erastus to Macedonia, but he remained in Asia ( Acts 19:21 Acts 19:22 ).
    7. A silversmith by the name of Demetrius, who made shrines for Diana, stirred up opposition against Paul until the entire city was in a state of confusion. The excited populace caught Gaius and Aristarchus, the companions of Paul from Macedonia, and rushed with them into the theatre, and continued to cry, some one thing and some another. They drew Alexander out of the multitude, who attempted to make a defense, but when they discovered that he was a Jew, they all cried and continued to cry for two houses, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." The town clerk appeased the people and said to them that they all knew the city of Ephesus worshipped the goddess Diana, and her worship could not be spoken against, consequently they ought not to do anything rashly, for the men they had brought were not blasphemers of the goddess; if Demetrius and the craftsmen with him had any matter against any man, the courts were open, and they should proceed in a lawful way, or if they inquired concerning other matters it should be determined in a lawful assembly, for they were in danger of being punished for the uproar, as there was no cause for it ( Acts 19:23-41 ).
    8. After the uproar, Paul called the disciples, embraced them, and departed to go into Macedonia, continuously exhorting the people ( Acts 20:1 Acts 20:2 ).
    9. He went into Greece, where he remained three months, and he was about to return into Syria, the Jews laid wait for him, and he proposed to go through Macedonia. There accompanied him Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timotheus, Tychicus and Trophimus, who, going on to Troas, waited there for him ( Acts 20:2-5 ).
    10. From Philippi he went to Troas, where he remained seven days. On the first day of the week they met with the disciples to break bread, and he preached to them, continuing his speech until midnight. A young man by the name of Eutychus, who had fallen into a deep sleep, fell down from the third loft and was taken up dead. Paul descended and restored him to life ( Acts 20:6-12 ).
    11. The company sailed to Assos, where they took Paul on board. They visited Mitylene, Samos, Trogyllium and Miletus ( Acts 20:14 Acts 20:15 ).
    12. Paul sent from Miletus for the elders of the church at Ephesus, and after an instructive and pathetic address, he kneeled down and prayed with them all, and then affectionately bade them farewell ( Acts 20:17-38 ).
    13. They sailed by Coos, Rhodes, Patara, Cyprus, and landed at Tyre, where they met disciples, who warned Paul against going up to Jerusalem ( Acts 21:1-6 ).
    14. They next went to Ptolemais, and from there to Caesarea, where they were entertained by Philip the evangelist ( Acts 21:7-9 ).
    15. Here a prophet, named Agabus, came down from Judea, who, binding his hands and feet with Paul's girdle, predicted that the Jews at Jerusalem would so bind the owner and deliver him to the Gentiles, and his friends tried to persuade him not to go up to Jerusalem. He replied to all their entreaties that he was not only ready to be bound at Jerusalem, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus, and they then ceased to persuade him ( Acts 21:1-14 ).
    16. They went from Caesarea to Jerusalem, and were gladly received by the brethren, to whom Paul gave an account of his work among the Gentiles, after which, at the suggestion of his friends, he entered into the temple in performance of a vow, where the Jews laid hands on him and drew out to kill him, but he was rescued by a band of soldiers and the chief captain ( Acts 21:15-39 ).
    17. After this, as a prisoner, he passed through various experiences, and was finally sent to Rome ( Acts 21:40-28:31 ; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 ).

  14. His End. Paul, in his final charge to Timothy, commanded him to preach the word and do the work of an evangelist, assuring him that he was ready to be offered up, that the hour of departure was at hand, and in keeping with his life, expressed full confidence in his everlasting destiny ( 2 Timothy 4:1-8 ).